Published in Pacific Pearl magazine July-August 2019 issue
What is the typical food you’d expect at a birthday party? Apart of the birthday cake, you would probably think hot-dogs, pizza, popcorn and soda. If you have ever been to a birthday party in Mazatlan, you may have found some surprising flavors. Obviously you’ll find frijoles puercos (piggy beans), often you’ll see Marlin en escabeche (pickled marlin), but have you ever tried Pastel de atún? The name of this dish is the combination of the two most unlikely ingredients: canned tuna and cake. Now don’t freak out, because it isn’t a sweet dish. Think of Pastel de atún as a savory cake that is similar to a layered cream cake with tuna. It is also known as sandwichón or large sandwich. Some might have already tried this delicacy and wondered how to make it. It’s elusive local food, because any Mazatleco can make it with their eyes closed. Funny enough pastel de atún is almost impossible to find at restaurants or even food carts. That’s why I will share the pastel de atún recipe and you can add it to your culinary collection.
1 package white bread
250ml sour cream
1 package cream cheese
1 can bell pepper (red)
1 small can Chipotle pepper (to taste)
2 cans tuna (water or oil-based)
Mayonnaise to taste
Put the sour cream, cream cheese, bell pepper, chipotle pepper, tuna and mayonnaise into a food processor and blend until smooth and pinky.
Remove the dark rims from the bread. Butter the bottom of a rectangular oven dish and cover with one layer of bread slices.
Spread a part of the tuna mixture onto the bread. Then place another layer of bread and cover with more tuna mixture. Continue until you finish with all the bread.
When the oven dish is full, decorate with some bell pepper slices. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the pastel de atun in squares and serve with frijole puercos.
Maaike Hoekstra has lived in Mexico for over 15 years. She is passionate about Mexican culture and food. Here are the stories and recipes she finds along the way.